Earlier this week, the Green Bay Packers added another undrafted free agent to add to their roster just ahead of May organized team activities. Cornerback Travis Manning of Northwest Missouri State, a Division II school, is the latest of a long line of undrafted rookies to join the Packers. The narrative is old by now as far as the Packers are concerned. Every season there seems to be one guy who comes out of nowhere and finds his way onto the team’s final roster. Will Manning be that guy this year?
The Packers entered the draft thin at cornerback with Tramon Williams and Davon House having departed. General manager Ted Thompson used his first two draft picks to add defensive backs to add some depth and push for a starting spot in training camp. With veteran DB Jarrett Bush not likely to return, the Packers may have their eye on Manning as a possible special teams contributor, if he can earn a roster spot.
Manning starred in both football and track in college. He has good athletic ability and it’s this pedigree that Thompson seems to have an affinity for. Last year, he drafted cornerback Demetri Goodson, who also played Division I basketball at Gonzaga. He signed long-time veteran Julius Peppers, who also starred in basketball for the North Carolina Tar Heels during his college days.
The trend of NFL teams trying to turn athletes into football players isn’t necessarily new. The Packers have a long history of pulling from those players who don’t get drafted and giving them a better-than-average chance to make their team. But Green Bay seems to be fully on board in terms of finding the skill set they think the team can utilize.
We have to be realistic in that right now, NFL teams are permitted 90 men on their roster. Over 30 of those players will end up on other rosters, practice squads or out of the league altogether. Manning may end up one of those statistics when the smoke clears, but in Green Bay, you just never know.——————
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: